Yesterday, banished FBI chief James Comey did what many would consider unthinkable: under oath, he – bluntly and frankly – accused the President of the United States of lying and defamation.
Comey delivered his three hours of considered and contained testimony before the US Senate Intelligence Committee to address his abrupt dismissal from the FBI and the links between Trump associates and Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
Silenced for almost a month to the day, the hearing was the first time since he was sacked that he was able to speak and put his side of the story to both the government and the American people at large.
It was in his extraordinary opening remarks that he set the tone for what was to follow.
After explaining that, to his understanding, he was at no threat of losing his job when Trump took office, Comey detailed his later confusion regarding the explanations that Trump and Trump’s administration put on the record after he had been terminated.
“The administration…chose to defame me, and more importantly the FBI, by saying that the organization was in disarray, that it was poorly led, that the workforce had lost confidence in its leader,” he said.
“Those were lies, plain and simple. And I am so sorry that the FBI workforce had to hear them, and I’m so sorry that the American people were told them.”
Later in the Q&A, Comey again accused the president of defamation, seemingly in reference to Trump’s calling him a “nut job” while in a private meeting with Russian diplomats.
And, also during questioning, Comey explained that it was because of what he believed to be Trump’s inherent dishonesty that felt he needed to keep notes regarding their interactions.
“I was honestly concerned that he [Trump] might lie about the nature of our meeting,” he said, “and so I thought it really important to document.”
In keeping his answers clear and to the point, and in staying focused on the details that matter to his fellow citizens Comey effectively – and single-handedly – raised the prospect of Trump coming under an obstruction of justice investigation as it relates to former national security adviser Michael Flynn, and helped to further propel the nation’s trust in their commander in chief in a downward motion.
For standing up for himself under oath and speaking his truth to power, we chose James Comey as our Speak of the Week.